Tour of Bright – Stuff Cyclists Say

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Another year of the Tour of Bright has come and gone with another enormously successful event hosted and organised by the Alpine Cycling Club. With months of build up and anticipation, I can’t believe it’s already over.

This is one of the only races of the year that features a top notch A-Grade field along with the most competitive lower grades in the country. Unlike most other road races in Australia, it’s held when beautiful weather is almost guaranteed and it’s a refreshing change from the winter racing. Short stage races like this seem to be fading but the ToB is going stronger than ever. It’s the premier event of the season for Masters, Women, B & C grades and the competition is fierce. People train all winter for this race. It’s Australia’s amateur Tour de France.

A Grade is one of the only categories who aren’t in top form for this race. Much of them use this as a training race in their build up towards the National Championships.  However, almost every rider in the other categories train for months in their build-up for the Tour of Bright. One common theme is the amount of pressure many people put on themselves coming into this race after training so hard for so long, and then the disappointment that ensues. Whether it’s something that goes wrong, or their simply not as good as they thought they were going to be, there’s often a very, very valid reason for it.

I have my fair share of excuses for not smashing all you Masters like I had planned, and here are some of the top others I heard this weekend…

Sh#* Cyclists Say :: Stage 1

Grace Sulzberger (Wes and Bernie's sister) won Stage 1 in the Women's A Grade, and Jo Hogan and Miranda Griffiths battled it out for 2nd and 3rd. Congratulations to Miranda for taking the overall GC by a 10th of a second over Jo!

“Most of these C-Grade riders would have been top 10 in A-Grade.They’re all a bunch of sandbaggers”

“Awwwe….I overtrained and got a cold this week. Couldn’t breath properly, not sure what went wrong”  

“I think I was dehydrated in that humidity. I got my magnesium mixture wrong and started cramping up Towanga”.

“I went out on the early break to help my team. My job was over by the time we hit Towanga”

My excuse: “Awwwe…I was just sitting in and saving my energy until the GC settles. I’ll make my move in the Time Trial this arvo and make up all those minutes I strategically lost”

There were some beautiful TT machines on course in stage 2 and some increadible times. The winning time was by Bendigo mountain biker Jack Haig with a time of 20:19 in A Grade (and Shane Miller close behind at 20:26 in Masters). I'm not sure who the guy in the photo is, but it looks like his time would have been in the 21 minute mark!

The time trial is probably the most exciting event for most people and could very well be the only TT many will do all season. That’s good enough reason for the Masters riders to have $16k TT machines and every second money can buy. I borrowed this unbelievable Specialized Shiv from a mate of mine and thought I’d be the star of the show. When I rocked up, I realised that it wasn’t even close to being the best bike on the road!

In any case, I left the start-ramp on time this year, set the powermeter to a smashing pace, and listened to the hum of that rocketship of a bike for the next 16km. When I stormed past the finish line I felt like I set the land-speed record. I stopped my clock and to my amazement I saw an absolutely horrible time! There must be some mistake. This was impossible.

Some ripper TT excuses I heard:

“I was just soft pedalling it. I’m more of a climber”

“Awwwe yeah…I had a ripping time and should have won, but I missed my start time by 1 minute…”

“Those smaller guys must have a lot less frontal area than me, so they go way faster than us big blokes…”

“I don’t have a proper TT bike. Why even bother trying, ya know?”

My own excuse? (especially after my mate beat me by 1 second): “I’m pretty sure the wind changed direction for my run. I felt a that cool change come through and had a headwind both ways.”

Sh#* Cyclists Say :: Stage 3

Mount Hotham is one of the only real mountain climbs in Australia I can think of. Thirty kilometers of climbing with 1279m of elevation gain over three distinct sections, steep ramps and spectacular views.

Stages 1 and 2 didn’t go so well for me so I was planning an epic Floyd Landis style comeback for stage 3. Lots of beer and Jack Daniels on Saturday night should have done the trick according to his book “Positively False”, but all it did was give me a headache on Sunday morning. I’ll remember to include a red egg next year to see if that has any effect.

Some more good stage 3 excuses:

“Awwwe…I’m not much of a climber. I’m not even racing. There’s bigger fish to fry…”

“I was going for the sprint jersey, so this is just just extra training for me”

“I think the altitude was giving me problems”

“They need to bring the crit back. That was a real race”

“I got a rub down last night and I think it went a little too deep”

“This race needs some descents. These climbers think they’re hot stuff, but they’re all crap descenders, ya know?”

My own excuse: “Awwwe geez…I didn’t even train for this. I’m just going for top 20 so I can plan my race schedule for next year”

(Left) One of the many battles fought towards the top of Mount Hotham. (Right) Once a legend, always a legend. Wayne Hildred wins on top of Mt Hotham in Masters 6 and shows that he's still got it. Next time you're in Bright, check out his cafe called "Bright Velo"

Summary

Once again the Alpine Cycling Club held what I consider to be the best amateur race in Australia. Thank you to all volunteers and sponsors who work so hard to make this happen. It’s an incredible weekend no matter how well or poorly you do there’s always next year. Congratulations to everyone who achieved their goals, and for those of you who didn’t, there’s always another race around the corner and don’t give up! I’ll see you there next year.

Be sure to visit jxpphotography.com to purchase photos. By tomorrow morning there will be at lease one photo of every rider who raced.

Full 2012 Tour of Bright Results here.

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